Artfest is just around the corner: March 28th - April 1st. What is Artfest you ask? Well, not having been to one personally, I can only comment on what I know about organizer Teesha Moore and the wonderful artists / teachers she coordinates to teach classes.
Teesha is quite simply the most creative and talented and generous and down-to-earth journaling artist I know. I first met Teesha while writing my book and was enthralled by her and husband Tracey’s amazing journals. But there’s more to it than that. Teesha has been an inspiration to many artists in the journaling field, and continues to inspire and encourage many of us through her work, personality and Artfest. Have I gushed enough yet? Pul-leeze, not even. But lets let her tell the story of Artfest.
[Jason] What is artfest?
[Teesha] I usually tell people that artfest is a shot of creativity adrenaline right in the arm. It consists of 3 full days of workshops, an evening market of artists who sell their work, a journaling party, a show-n-tell at the end to see what 500 attendees made in all their classes, a room full of supplies for attendees to play with, and perhaps most of all, it is great way to mingle with other artists…people who think just like you do. Friendships are always made here that extend way past the artfest weekend. It’s really great to see how well everyone relates to each other. This year we have 520 attendees. It starts on a wednesday afternoon and is over on a sunday morning. It is held at Fort Worden (the movie, An Officer and A Gentleman was shot there) which is in Port Townsend…about 2 hours north from seattle.
Tell us about the first Artfest event.
Well…I got my first standing ovation which I will never forget as long as I live. But it was also the most harrowing week of my life. I clearly had no idea of half of what would be involved in running an event and our group of about 6 were running and running and running the whole time trying to keep everything afloat. It absolutely drained every last drop of energy I had in my body. But when it was done, it was exhiliarating. Tons of people were thanking me in the end with tears in their eyes about what a life changing experience it was. That alone made me realize that as much work as I had just been through…I HAD to do it again. There was no question when I looked in people’s eyes.
How has Artfest evolved over the years?
The first year we had 250 attendees. now we have doubled that and it still runs fine. The extra people are barely noticable. We really haven’t changed it much in the 7 years. We now do show-n-tell and we have a gallery that allows attendees to make art to sell to help pay for their trip…but on the whole it works the way it is and everyone seems to love it.
What kind of classes can attendies participate in?
Whew! everything. bookbinding, metal work, jewelry making, assemblage, painting, encaustics, drawing, artists books, polymer clay, journaling, altered photos, etc… But all these mediums have a funky spin to them. These are not the same classes you see at your local community college or art school. All my teachers are picked on their creativity and their out-of-the-box style’s. We used to include textiles but that category is so big that we now have a little sister retreat called ArtFiberfest which happens at the same place and has the same schedule but is in october and draws a smaller crowd of about 150-175.
Who are the teachers at Artfest?
They all are artists first and foremost. Then they are teachers. I think this is important. I also pick them not based on their technical expertise but rather their understanding of the creative process. I really look for artists who are always pushing their own boundaries and who seem to exhibit a complete understanding and involvement with true creativity. My teachers are leaders and not copiers of another person’s style. There is a difference between being inspired by another’s work and perhaps incorporating elements into their own work but keeping it their own style and downright copying another’s work. To me, this is easy to see and is another factor in determining my line-up every year.
What about extra curricular activities?
This is what makes Artfest what it is and is also the reason I do not allow folks to come for only 1 or 2 workshops. There is something that goes on each night at artfest and you can choose to participate or not. One of the activities that is always open is the Art Asylum room. This is where we unload a ton of boxes of leftover art supplies for the attendees to play with. Folks clean out their art supplies and donate a box to Artfest every year. You never know what you will find to create with but you always see people making cool stuff out of what you would have discarded. So essentially when you aren’t in class, you can still create 24 hours a day. We also have a journaling party down on the beach in a cabin one of the evenings. we build a bonfire and provide s’more fixin’s as well as hot dogs and beer. People bring their journals down and just sit around and talk to folks while they journal or look at other people’s journals. This is usually a small group and provides something different for those who choose to participate.
The classes are the draw to Artfest, but do participants take away more than new art techniques? Is it a learning experience for artists to find themselves, their own style, maybe reveal their own artistic and inner vision?
Absolutely. Every year, I have people telling me what a life changing experience artfest was. I think it opens your eyes and you have a lot of aha! moments. Your head gets filled with all sorts of inspiration and you start thinking about your own style’s and modes of working differently….which is always good for an artist to do so they don’t get stale. Sometimes an artist completely changes his or her medium and goes down a different road after artfest. There is a dynamic at artfest that I can’t put my finger on…but it’s real and energetic and yet nourishing.
While the event is happening, what are you doing? Do you get a chance to attend any classes?
Ha ha ha! This is THE most draining week of the year for me. Even after all these years when I think I’ve finally got in down, things pop up that we have to deal with. There is no possible way to take a class myself as each day we prepare for the evening activities while the attendees are in their workshops. Even if I had a larger crew to handle everything, I wouldn’t be able to sit in class and concentrate. But I don’t want to be relaxed about it because the minute I do, I might forget a detail that needs to be done. That said, in the last 2 years we try to take an hour here or there where Tracy (my husband) takes me down to a park in town and we just stand at the waters’ edge and soak in the calmness of the waves and the birds chirping and the swaying of the trees in the wind. Then we go back to the fort and jump into the next thing on the list of things to do. It really helps.
How many vendors are participating in the trade show event?
About 35 each year. Many of these people only sell at artfest and there are some amazing things to be had every year. It’s a highlight.
Where does artfest go from here?
It keeps on truckin’. As long as people want to come and teachers want to teach at it, I will organize it. Every year I get new teachers who are amazing and we fine tune things based on what the attendees tell us. It keeps evolving and staying fresh while simultaneously keeping with some traditions that is what makes artfest what it is.
Where can we find more information about Artfest?
On my website at www.teeshamoore.com
Teesha, you have been an inspiration to me any so many other artists. Thank you for doing what you do and just being you and providing an invaluable resource for all of us trying to build a creative life outside of the cookie-cutter mold. Here’s my standing ovation to you! You’re a dear. Keep up the good fight!
Registration is closed for this year’s Artfest, but keep in touch at www.teeshaslandofodd.com